This has always been one if my favorite bumper stickers. Recently the tragic events in Orlando have sparked some interesting debates. I have heard people speak out against the LGBT community, I have heard certain people speak out against the Muslim community. There have been arguments on both side of the gun issue. There have been both praises and criticism of law enforcement and government. I even heard a republican broadcast mention the shooter was a registered democrat.
Whenever tragedy strikes people want to look for something to blame. It gives them comfort and a false sense that they can correct the ‘problem’ once they assign blame to what they think the problem may be. It is this kind of thinking that is the problem. Your sexual orientation does not make you kill people. Your ideology does not make you kill people. Certainly what political party you vote for does not make you more or less likely to commit violent acts. Yes, it would be easy (and very naïve) to say all members of this religion are bad, or if you vote in this political party you are to blame for all of the worlds ills. When I hear statements such as this it makes me think the person making them is not very well educated.
So what does cause people to harm others? To be filled with such hate that they resort to violence? It is the inability to coexist with others who are different from them. There are over 7 billion people on this planet and if we cannot get along with others who may do things that we would not every day will be a long day. I am not saying you have to be in agreement with everyone that would be ridiculous and very boring actually. Still, being able to afford others the right to believe the way they do even if we do not agree with it is a sign of a mature and cultured individual. I am not gay, but I have quite a few friends who are. To expect them to be straight because I am makes no more sense then if they were to ask me to be gay because they are. I am not Muslim so I do not celebrate Ramadan, but I certainly wouldn’t want to prevent my friends who do from doing so.
Ok, so what then is the answer to all of this senseless violence? I believe it is compassion and knowledge. For years I have encouraged people to explore other cultures and beliefs. If you do not agree with someone or something, get to know more about it. You may still not believe the same thing, but it will help you appreciate why they believe as they do. There have been several times when people I know who “hate” this group of people meet one of my friends who happen to fit into that group of people and tell me how nice they are. After they find out they belong to a group that the person believes is no good they end of feeling a little confused, silly and sometimes angry. I have even seen this with members of my own family. It is through this positive exposure that minds are slowly changed and beliefs questioned.
So what can we do? What is our part of the solution? First, learn all you can about the people you meet. Look for the good in them. Second, whatever you are, be a good one. If you are gay, be the nicest, most helpful gay person you can be. If you are a republican, be the most caring and compassionate republican you can. That is the only way you can truly change someone’s beliefs is through experience and education. Share all the positive aspects of who you are. If someone voices a strong dislike for it, try reaching them through education and compassion. If they persist in their hate all you can do is be shining example of how wrong they are and the only way to do that is by being an amazing human being.
Lastly, share this post. Let us educate everyone and let us all do our part to get along with those we may disagree with the most.
Time to showcase two more of my amazing friends. Here are two of my good friends. Not only are they both wonderful ladies, they both happened to be named Kelly. They are two people who have brought joy and a fresh perspective into my life. They have some significant differences, but share some great qualities as well.
Kelly B, who is on the left I have known many years. We went to school together. Only in the past few years, however, have I really had the honor of getting to know her well. We both were bartenders at the time and she was throwing a themed party where she worked. Our mutual friend invited me and we began to chat. Through both stopping to see her at her places of work and the wonders of Facebook I discovered she was a stylist. It just so happened at the time I was in need of a haircut and went to her. Over the next few haircuts we learned a lot about each other and she gave me some advice I had shared earlier in this blog. (see Kelly’s words of wisdom May 9th, 2013) Since then she has discovered the love of her life and is the process of celebrating that. Another thing we have in common.
Kelly S, who happens to be the Kelly on the right I have only known about a year. In a short period of time she has brought a lot of laughs into the lives of both myself and my lovely lady Margie. Kelly stopped in at the bar I work on Monday night where I bartend and Margie is the DJ. Not only has she made everyone of our other customers feel at home, she always has a joke and a way to make people laugh. Kelly and I also share books and she has introduced me to several new authors as well as given me feedback on my own book. A final great quality Kelly brings to the table is this, she is always celebrating and cheering on the love I share with the lady in my life. Something that makes us both smile.
Here what I learned from these two ladies. Kelly B has taught me no matter how long you know someone their true treasure and value can only be enjoyed when you take the time to get to know them. Plus, you may have a great friend in your life for years before discovering how wonderful they are. Kelly S has reminded me how important it is to laugh. Showed me ways to make people feel welcome and part of the group. Also gives me someone to celebrate my amazing relationship with.
I am truly blessed to know both of these ladies. If you have a chance to have a friend named Kelly I would suggest you take it.
Here is a sign that appeared for my last day bartending. A lot of people asked the reason I left bartending at The Hideout. That was a very good question. I loved most of my customers. The owner and I had a great working relationship. It was a lot of fun. I made decent money. So why leave? Sounds like a great gig. Well, I asked myself “Neil, where do you want to be in 5 years?” the answer was not behind a bar. My desire is to be touching people and changing and making a positive difference in their lives on a grand scale. Bartending has been great for me. I have met a lot of wonderful people and received some amazing advice.
One day I realized in order to fulfill my life’s goals of being a full-time author and motivational speaker I would need to dedicate more time to my craft. I also wanted to grow my following for this site. I would need more time to create content as well as promote. I looked at my life. I work 30+ hours a week at the post office which I wanted to keep for benefits. I DJ 8+ hours a week, which is great time I get to enjoy the love of my life as we run the show together. I also bartend 16+ hours a week. Although I love bartending my nights had become filled with a lot of stress as well. Sure the money was great, but there was the drama of people not getting along, friends always asking for or even expecting things for free which got old really quick. Not to mention although we worked in the same place, time away from the love of my life. Some days the only things we seemed to say to each other were “good morning” and “goodnight”. therefore I made the decision to focus on my future. Sure my present did take a hit. I gave up a lot of my income and something I was really good at. I still hear “we miss you behind the bar” which does make me feel good. Now, I may not be able to afford the nice things I was buying. I must keep a closer eye on my finances, but my life is filled with passion and excitement for the future. My website is not only up to date, but growing in following. Still feel free to share this site with all of your friends though.
What is the point of this post? Simply this, bartending was something I was good at, it was fun and I made good money doing it. What it was not was my passion and my future. As of right now my next book is still being written and money is not rolling in. What is rolling in is a feeling of getting closer to my goals and making money doing what I love. In fact, I have set a goal of retiring from the post office in two years or less. I know the more I write, the better I will become. I try to learn everyday about marketing myself and growing my brand. It is exciting, but scary at the same time. Most importantly, it is my dream. I was a good bartender, but I aim to be a great author and bring joy and positivity to people across the globe. Feel free to help by sharing this website as well as my book A Happy Life for Busy People with anyone you think could benefit from a little more joy in their lives.
Here is the takeaway. Do not be afraid to give up the good to go for the great. If you have a dream, chase it. Better yet catch it! Do what you love. Take risks, have fun and keep your face to the sunshine!
A few days ago we discussed the value of old friends. Since then a few of you have told me either your old friends had passed on or even that you did not have any. What to do when that great treasure of life is not available to you? Simply this, when you do not have a treasure it is time to invest. What do I mean? Begin to put together a team of great people that will help you in your journey of life. Napoleon Hill referred to them as a ‘Mastermind group’ regardless of what you call them, start to look for new friends. This becomes more difficult as we grow older, but it need not be. As discussed in yesterday’s post, the opportunity to meet new people is around us every day. Not to mention the more we know and experience, the more people we come in contact with and the more we have to discuss with them.
See the picture above. In addition to my sister, it features good friends of mine that I have met in the last few years of my life. Each one of them brings something to the table to make living life more of a pleasure. They both are teachers and students of mine. We teach and learn from each other’s lives and experiences. They also bring unique and wonderful gifts and talents. The decision to meet, talk and listen to both of these gentleman has brought far more into my life than had I not. To explain fully may take an afternoon, but allow me a brief example.
Starting on the far right is my friend Travis “Treezy” Jones. We met about 4 years ago when he walked into a tavern I was working at. We enjoyed some great conversation and laughs. He returned a few more times and we began to learn that we had a lot in common. We both enjoyed making people feel good and creating a positive atmosphere. Before long he also began to work at the same place. Together without really understanding what we were doing we began to attract people as much for the atmosphere we created as for the drinks being served. Through a falling out with ownership both of us left that place and lost touch. Several months passed and during which time we both developed our life philosophy. He then happened to walk into a new place I was working and explained he had started a “Bring it movement” challenging people to create positive situations wherever they go. We are working together on that and soon he will be creating a website of his own to promote his ideas.
The other gentleman is Bret. I had the good pleasure of being introduced to Bret through the amazing love of my life, Margie. Bret is a man who thinks deeply and shares often. Him and I have had several discussions on life and the people we share it with. I have know him a little over two years and learned a lot in such a little time. Bret also travels quite a bit and interacts with people he encounters along the way. Doing so gives him an unique look and life and how different people may see it differently.
My life would be much different without these two gentleman I have befriended as an adult. Taking risks and getting to know people, especially those different from you can expand your life to levels you would never know by keeping to yourself. Friendship is one of the few places where 1+1 equals far more than 2. Working together you can help build and expand each others lives to a great level. So invest today in some friends you think will bring a lot to your life and that you can bring a lot to theirs. The greatest return on new friendships? They turn out to be old friendships.
Here is my current work situation, a small table in the corner of a local Starbucks. I was deep in thought with the current post I was writing for this site when an interesting thing happened. A gentleman approached me and asked me if I could help him fix the Facebook messenger on his phone. My knowledge of technology does not rank near the top of the pile, but I told him to go into his app setting and try updating them. A few minutes later I was working away and the same kind gentleman came over to thank me and let me know that it worked. There was something in his approach and genuine sincerity that made his interruptions a pleasure. So as I watched him return to his seat a few tables away I felt the urge to share with him this site. What happened next is proof you should listen to your hunches. I went over there and give him my card. He thanked me and explained he could really use some motivation because in addition to being recently divorced he had just returned from a trip to Syria, where he was from, in which he was lucky to get out of the country. He explained to me the trouble was while he was there he was under suspicion because he was an American citizen. So he finally returns and guess what happens when a person of the Muslim faith returns from Syria? Yes again suspicion. He explained how frustrated he felt because he loved both countries and yet both of them were suspicious of him. We went on discussing our beliefs on compassion and life philosophy. We exchanged phone numbers and he even mentioned he might have an idea for my next book. All of this because I had the good fortune of helping a gentleman with his cell phone issues and trusting my hunches. There are many lessons that can be taken away from this, but I will leave today’s lessons up to your interpretation.
Note this very scary picture above. Are you puzzled as to what is so frightening about an ordinary drinking fountain? On the surface, in the light nothing. When you can walk up, push the button and get water not even a child would have fear of such an object. Normally such things do not scare me as well. Aside from clowns, which I am not to crazy about, I generally do not fear much. Let me share a story with you where that wasn’t the case.
One day I was camping and while setting up my tent the park ranger came by to warn of some serious problems with black bears in the area. Now let me begin by saying bears are one of my favorite animals and even my nickname. So nothing that I would normally fear. The ranger, however, was telling us that the bears had been unusually aggressive that year especially when people had food or smelled like food. I took note and made sure I had plenty of firewood to keep that going all night as well. No sooner did I get my tent set up then the rain came in. So hard I ended up sleeping in my car and not said tent anyway. It rained through most of the afternoon as well as the evening. I had fallen asleep to the sound of rain on the roof of the car which is rather soothing. I woke up somewhere around midnight with a strong urge to return all of the water I had consumed to prepare for the hike that never occurred. the good news is that is was not raining anymore, the bad news was because this was some place remote and it was late at night, there was nothing open and the only bathrooms available were the not so clean camp bathrooms that were a short distance up a walking path that was not well lit at all. When nature calls, however, we must answer. So I grabbed my flashlight and half awake I began to walk. Upon cresting the hill I froze. There, at the top of the hill right in front of me I could see the silhouette of a black bear! I could see his muzzle, his ear sticking up. I recalled how I must smell like the campfire I had cooked over. I waited nervously and waited for the bear to make its’ move. I waited for what seemed like an eternity. No such move came. Finally I slowly had the courage to raise my flashlight. What I saw was amazing. The muzzle slowly turned into a bowl with a button on the side. That ear sticking up? The very top of….yes, you guessed it, a drinking fountain. Oh come on, look at the picture can’t you see it?
Even if you think I am nuts, which on occasion I may be the first to agree with, what is the purpose of our story here today? Other than camping with Neil can be a comical affair. This is the point. After hearing the ranger’s words of warning I had been on the lookout for bears. Every sound became a bear waiting to pounce. Even a drinking fountain almost caused me to not quite make it to the rest room. which I did, but it is really hard to walk and laugh out loud at yourself while you really have to go to the bathroom. Here is my point. At sometime in our life I think all of us had a cement bear. If we go into situations with a fear, or worse yet, some sort of prejudice, quite often we will trap ourselves into two different outcomes. One, it will be a dooming self-fulfilling prophecy or two, we may see things not as they exactly are. When you find yourself looking a bad situation in the eye, ask yourself is this really something to fear or hate or is it simply a cement bear? If you are not sure, shine your flashlight on the situation. learn as much as you can and quite often you may discover it is no scarier than a drinking fountain. Every time I see one of these now I laugh and recall how I let my fears and expectations turn something so harmless into one of north Americas largest predators. Do yourself a favor, be on the lookout for cement bears.
Those who know me in person know that I am not the definition of high fashion. Some may even say I am not the definition of low fashion. Yes, my clothing generally follows the axiom of ‘function over form’. That being said I did most recently even wear a dress shirt and tie to impress a lovely young lady. So why I am writing a relationship blog entitled ‘What to wear’ if I know little to nothing about fashion? Simple, the article I am going to tell you to put on is not an article of clothing at all, but will do far more for your appearance than the finest ball gown or Italian tie. So what is this thing that can so improve our appearance? Diamonds? Fancy jewelry? Expensive cologne? Actually no to all of those. In fact this item will not cost you anything. Enough teasing, let me tell you the answer, or more to the point let me use this quote to explain what I am trying to say.
“Good humor is one of the best articles of dress one can wear in society” – William Thackeray
Is humor really that important? Yes. A good loving sense of humor can fill a relationship with many amazing things. Humor can take away the sting of a disagreement. Humor can lessen the pain of an accidental hurt. Humor can intensify love and half sorrow. So I implore of you to develop humor with your partner. Not humor of the biting sarcastic nature, but one of the fun and childish nature. Can you share a children’s joke like “What do you call a fish with no eye? fsh” Or even make up a silly word that only the two of you know that brings a smile to both of your faces? Recall moments that made you both laugh as often as you can. Always look for the joy and humor in life and in your relationship. A good sense of humor was in the top 3 of most desired traits of both men and women. Nobody likes to be with someone who doesn’t smile. So find some good jokes and always look for ways to make your partner laugh. Laughter and Love always make a good pair.
Several years back I was heading on vacation. The young lady I was dating was unable to go with for a variety of reasons. We were discussing how much we would be missing each other when an interesting thing happened. She then asked me what time zone I would be in. After telling her I could see she was doing some rough calculations in her head. She then asked if I could do her a simple favor. Being one who likes to make their partner happy I was more than happy to oblige. This was her favor “Tomorrow night at 10pm your time can you stop and look up at the moon for about 60 seconds?” This seemed like an odd request considering there seemed to be nothing special going on with the moon that I knew that day. After assuring her I would I had to inquire why she asked that I do that particular thing. “Because even though we are apart I know at the exact same time we will be staring at the exact same moon” When I first heard it I thought it sounded rather corny and a little cliché, but agreed anyway. Fast forward 24 hours. I find myself on a beautiful tropical island with some friends sharing dinner and cocktails. Now I cannot explain why I happened to look at the clock when I did, but it just happened to be 9:55. In my rum induced state I had almost forgotten the promise I had made. Not wanting to appear too much like a hopeless romantic I just told my friends I had to use the men’s room, which wasn’t a complete lie after rum anyway. So there I found myself standing on the beach in front of the ocean looking at my watch thinking to myself “All I have to do is quickly look up at the moon right at ten so I can say I did it and then I can go back to my cold and refreshing cocktail” So I waited about the 90 seconds I had to go before ten o’clock and my brain played a funny trick on me. Suddenly I started to wonder if she was doing the same thing. Before I knew it ten o’clock had arrived. I went to take my quick glance and noticed how amazing the clouds passing by the moon looked that night. It had a shade of dark purple I had never seen before. As I looked for a few seconds I began to picture the girl I left behind doing the same. Suddenly I wasn’t is such a hurry to get back to my rum (one of the few times that can be said) the rest of the evening was filled with thoughts of her and the moon. Sure I enjoyed the company of my friends and even a few more cocktails, but I felt a connection with a woman thousands of miles away I just can’t explain.
So what is the point of this story? The point is this. At some point in any relationship you will be apart from the one you love. This can be a healthy thing as everyone needs a little room for themselves and to experience and discover things they can bring back to the relationship. It also underscores the power of symbols and how you can use them to stay connected to your partner even when they are not around. Perhaps you have a piece of amazing jewelry they made you? Perhaps they wrote you a nice letter about everything they love about you? Even the journals we discussed in a previous post can serve as a way of staying connected even when you have to be apart physically. So find that symbol or create one with your partner. I have seen everything from necklaces that have puzzle pieces that fit together to matching tattoos. Whatever works for you and your partner. Also remember it never hurts to stop and look at the moon.
Earl Nightingale once said the most important word to success was ‘Attitude’. I agree although I think it ranks right up there with gratitude, of which we will discuss tomorrow. Much like in the world of business success, in the world of relationships attitude can be everything. This is true in any kind of relationship, but since we are looking at romantic relationships let us focus on that example although the tactics here are basically the same. While having a discussion about this particular blog with a very close friend of mine I was explaining to her that what I post here I have learned by both studying the experts in a particular field as well as real world experience. In my life, as may be true in yours, experience can be another word for making mistakes. Many people, myself included, often fear making mistakes. This is often true in relationships. People are often so afraid of doing the wrong thing it prevents them from taking any action at all. In an earlier post we discussed that you are either growing or dying. There is no standing still in life or in relationships. Here is the beautiful thing, even if you make a mistake or hurt your partners feelings it can be a great source of growth. The secret is the actions you take leading to and following the upset. I used to fear making mistakes in my relationship. Nobody likes their feelings hurt or to hurt anyone else’s feelings. When there was a miscommunication in my relationships in the past I would often focus on what was lost. Have I lost trust in this person? Have they lost trust in me? Is there now a lack of closeness or intimacy? To thinking even worse things such as Is the relationship ever going to be the same? Will the relationship end because of this? It is easy to think this way especially when you are dealing with such intense emotion. this very reason highlights the need to think about how you handle relationship challenges before they occur. My attitude now is “Ok, things are not going well. What am I going to learn about my partner or our relationship through solving this?” Now there are two very important differences to notice here. One, I have changed the focus to what has been compromised in the present to what can be gained in the future. Now if the thing you come up with that you can learn is that your partner is a jerk, you may need to try to do a little refocusing. It is true that they may have done something that upset you, but in a healthy relationship partners rarely do anything to hurt each other on purpose. Instead focus on why may have done what they done. If you can still only come up with “They did it because they are a jerk” we may need to take a deep breath and think of another important factor. Always consider this very important point. In a relationship there is only one person you should try to change, that is the person in the mirror. We have no control over others and in a healthy relationship we should not even desire such things. Are there things about your partner you may not enjoy? I bet the answer to that question may be the same as it would be for them. Let us say you are upset because your partner never seems to listen to you and what you say. Instead of trying to come up with ways ‘to make your partner listen to you’ ask yourself “Is there a way I can more effectively communicate so that my partner is more likely to hear what I am trying to convey? Ask your partner, remembering to always make the effort about yourself. Something like this “Sometimes I feel what I am saying doesn’t always come across the right way to you. Is there a more effective way I could communicate with you?” will surely have a more productive result than “What can I do to finally get you to listen to me?” Remember working on changing your approach will quite often be the quickest fix to addressing an issue that may not thrill you about your partner. This will not only lead to a happier relationship, but to a happier you. The second thing I did was change my focus from the problem to the solution. In business there is an axiom that you should spend 20% of your time focusing on the problem and 80% of the time focusing on the solution. This is the same in relationships. You first need to focus on the problem to make sure you both have an understanding of each others point of view and what the problem truly is. I cannot tell you how many relationships have had arguments because both parties didn’t have a clue as to what the other was upset about. Not your relationship I’m sure, but it is good to make sure you understand what is bothering each other. Once you have that knowledge it is important to then immediately shift to the solution. Instead of dwelling on how mad it made you that your partner made you late for something, focus on what you can do to prevent such things in the future. Again remember only focus on what you can do. If you are expecting your partner to change it will only lead to further resentment. In the case of your partner making you late. Perhaps you could work on better conveying your desire to be on time. Or the fact that the event was scheduled and that is was important that you be there at a specific time. Maybe even ask them to be ready a little earlier than you need them so you can allow for a little extra time. So the attitude you bring to any situation with your partner can be the difference between growth and pain. Remember to focus 20% on the problem and 80% on the solution. Also remember the only person you should try to change in a relationship is yourself. Tomorrow we discuss another magical word in the world of relationships.
One of the greatest things we can do for our partners is show them that we are interested in them. How do we do that? It is actually easier than you think. Quite often I hear people say things like “They should know I am interested in them. They are the first people I tell about my day” or “I share all my problems and dreams with them”. While these are both great and very important things I would recommend doing in any relationship as it displays mutual respect and trust, it does not show that you are interested in them. So far I have told you what not to do, how about we move onto what we should do? In the above examples the people were still being ‘all about themselves’. One of the easiest ways to show your partner that you love and care about them and that you value them is to take an interest in what they are interested in. Now I can hear some imaginary moans and groans out there, but let me explain. Perhaps your wife is into crafting and you haven’t worked a pair of scissors since the 3rd grade. Maybe your husband likes to work on cars and you do not know the difference between a fuel pump and a spark plug, what to do then? The easiest ways is to ask questions. If your wife has created something fabulous a simple statement such as “That looks really beautiful. How did you manage to put that altogether?” will go a long way. This is not to say you have to stop watching football and start making flower arrangements, but knowing a little bit about your spouses hobbies and passions will not only help you appreciate the efforts they put into them, but also help you be able to carry on a conversation about what they are passionate about. Once you start speaking about one passion it can often lead to discussions about others.
So what if you have no interest at all in what your partner is doing? That is perfectly acceptable. Notice in the above example there was no mention about starting to craft together but you may find you do enjoy your partners hobby. This is not at all a requirement. In fact, having separate passions and activities you can engage in outside of relationship often keeps things fresh and offers a great chance to enjoy each other from a distance which is needed in even the best relationships. Still a healthy appreciation for your love’s talents will not only make them feel good, but bring you closer. Let’s face it when you can have a great conversation about a topic you enjoy you certainly enjoy being around the person a lot more. This is especially good for hobbies that take partners away from each other. “My husband is always gone fishing with his buddy” is something I hear from my female friends. When I ask them what he likes about fishing they often reply with a blank stare or a simple “I don’t know” When I push further and ask “Have you ever discussed fishing with him?” I often hear how much they dislike they whole event and it usually stems from the fact that it is the very event that takes their spouse away from them. If only they would discover what aspect about fishing their husbands like. Perhaps it is the time in nature? Perhaps it is being on the water? They could arrange a few more activities that are not necessarily involving a rod and real, but could be fun for both parties. Asking a few basic questions about fishing could often bring even the most reserved angler to great oratory. Another great thing about inquiring about things our partners enjoy is that it is often returned to us in kind. Now imagine to people discussing the very topics that bring them joy with each other. That is a recipe for an amazing love life!